How to master Italian pronouns: A comprehensive free guide

Whether you’re learning Italian for enhancing your professional profile, for visiting our beautiful country over the summer or just for impressing your Italian friends when you go out for pizza, knowing Italian pronouns will definitely make a difference in the way you speak and understand the language.

Why?

Because they’re used ALL the time. In fact, we’re sure that you’re already using the pronouns yourself, without realizing it! So, being aware of what you’re saying will be a big step on the steady path of language learning.

If you’ve already mastered one of the other Romance languages, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pick up pronouns in Italian super quickly as you identify similar patterns in language structure. And if not? No problem!

In this article we’ll not only explain what pronoun is, but will also look at all the different kinds of pronouns in Italian and give you examples on how to use them in everyday life.

What is a pronoun?

If you’ve never learned a foreign language before, you may not know exactly what pronouns are. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you!

Pronouns are words that replace nouns within a sentence. For example, in English you might refer to “a friend” with “she” or” her”. These are pronouns. Quite straightforward, right?

In Italian, there are many types of pronouns, let’s see what they can be used for.

Free downloadable pronoun booklet

Master Italian pronouns with our free 12 page booklet including the most important types of pronouns. We give you examples on how to use pronouns in everyday life, to improve your Italian beyond beginner level.

Free Italian pronouns booklet.

1. Italian subject pronouns

Subject pronouns are used to replace the subject of a sentence. You’re probably already familiar with these, even if you didn’t know their grammatical definition!

EnglishItalianItalian example (sentence)English translation
IioIo sono Italiana, e tu?I’m Italian, and you?
YoutuTu lavori o studi?Do you work or study?
HeluiLui è mio fratello.He’s my brother.
SheleiLei è mia cugina.She’s my cousin.
WenoiNoi studiamo filosofia.We are studying philosophy.
YouvoiVoi siete degli ingegneri?Are you engineers?
TheyloroLoro non sanno l’inglese.They do not speak English.

A few things to remember:

  • In Italian, subject pronouns are often omitted. The conjugation of the verb usually provides enough information on the subject of the sentence.
  • If you want to add more emphasis to the subject, if you need it for clarity, or it follows the word anche (also), you can of course leave it.

Remember, the personal pronoun to address someone formally is lei:

  • Signor Agosti, lei è molto gentile. (Mr. Agosti, you are very kind.)

2. Italian direct object pronouns

Direct object pronouns replace a direct object, which is the direct recipient of a verb, and usually answers the questions Cosa? (what?) or Chi? (whom?).

EnglishItalian
I am reading (what?) a book.Io sto leggendo (cosa?) un libro.

Un libro is a direct object in the sentence above. Now, let’s replace the direct object with a direct object pronoun:

EnglishItalian
I am reading it.Io lo sto leggendo.

Direct object pronouns usually go before the verb.

EnglishItalianItalian example (sentence)English translation
MemiMi chiamerai tu?Will you call me?
YoutiTi ho visto ieri.I saw you yesterday.
HimloLo incontro spesso per caso. I often see him by chance.
HerlaLa sento bene.I can hear her well.
Itlo/laÉ iniziata la musica. La senti?The music started. Can you hear it?
UsciCi chiamate voi?Will you call us?
YouviVi chiamo domani.I’ll call you tomorrow
Them (masculine)liLi ho visti ieri.I saw them yesterday.
Them (feminine)leLe ho viste ieri.I saw them yesterday.

Remember:

When they are used in the past, object pronouns agree with the past participle of the verb.

  • Le ho viste ieri.
  • Li ho visti ieri.

Direct object pronouns can also attach tho the end of a verb, in the case of imperatives or infinitives:

ItalianEnglish
Chiamalo!Call him!
Vorrei chiamarli, ma non so se è una buona idea. I’d like to call them, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea.

Stress object pronouns

Object pronouns have a tonic version, which is used when we want to give the direct object more emphasis. These come after the verb:

Ha chiamato me, non te. (He called me, not you.)

They look like normal subject pronouns except for me (me) and te (you).

EnglishItalianItalian example (sentence)English translation
MemePerché hai chiamato me?Why did you call me?
YouteHo chiamato te apposta.I called you on purpose.
Him/Herlui/leiHai visto lui o lei?Did you see him or her?
UsnoiHa ascoltato noi alla fine.He listened to us in the end,
YouvoiHa ascoltato voi alla fine.He listened to you in the end.
ThemloroHo chiamato loro perché tu non rispondevi.I called them because you weren’t answering.

3. Italian indirect object pronouns

Indirect object pronouns replace an indirect object in a sentence, which are objects that answer the questions A chi? (to whom?) A cosa? (to what?).

Don’t worry though, these pronouns are very similar to the direct object pronouns, the only change in the third person singular:

EnglishItalianItalian example (sentence)English translation
To memiMi hai detto qualcosa?Did you say something to me?
To youtiTi ha spiegato come funziona?Did she explain to you how it works?
To himgliGli hai offerto qualcosa?Did you offer something to him?
To herleLe hai detto che non adremo?Did you tell her we’re not going?
To usciCi hanno portato la cena.They brought us dinner.
To youviVi hanno detto dove andare?Did they tell you where to go?
To themloro (gli)Gli hai detto che arriverò più tardi?Have you told them I am arriving later?

In the third person plural, you can either use loro after the verb or gli before the verb as an indirect object pronoun:

  • Gli hai detto che arriverò tardi?
  • Hai detto loro che arriverò tardi?

Gli is far more common, but loro is more grammatically correct.

Indirect object pronouns, like direct ones, can also attach tho the end of a verb, in the case of imperatives or infinitives:

ItalianEnglish
Spiegagli!Explain it to him!
Vorrei dirle che mi dispiace.I’d like to tell her I’m sorry.

4. Reflexive pronouns in Italian

Reflexive pronouns (pronomi riflessivi) look just like direct object pronouns, except for the third-person form (si, which is the same in the singular and in the plural). They are used with reflexive verbs, in which the action refers back to the subject.

EnglishItalianItalian example (sentence)English translation
MyselfmiMi alzo sempre presto.I always get up early.
YourselftiTi lavi spesso?Do you wash yourself often?
HimselfsiLui/lei non si lava mai.He/she never washes himself/herself.
OurselvesciCi siamo svegliati alle 7.We woke up at 7.
YourselvesviA che ora vi siete alzati?What time did you get up?
ThemselvessiSi sono svegliati tardi.We woke up late.

Just like direct and indirect object pronouns, reflexive pronouns are placed before a conjugated verb or attached to the infinitive. The reflexive pronoun can also attach to an infinitive or imperative.

Note that the reflexive pronoun agrees with the subject even when attached to the infinitive:

ItalianEnglish
Alzati! Get up!
Voglio alzarmi./Mi voglio alzare.I want to get up.

5. Possessive pronouns in Italian

Possessive pronouns in English are “mine”, “yours”, “his/hers/its”, “ours”, “yours” and “theirs”. In Italian, they are exactly the same as the possessive adjectives.

EnglishMasculine singularFeminine singularMasculine pluralFeminine plural
Minemiomiamieimie
Yours (of tu)tuotuatuoitue
His, hers, itssuosuasuoisue
Oursnostronostranostrinostre
Yours (of voi)vostrovostravostrivostre
Theirsloroloroloroloro

A possessive pronoun is used to replace a noun, so that we do not repeat it in a sentence.

ItalianEnglish
Questa tazza è la mia, quella è la sua.This cup is mine, that one is hers.
I giornali sono i nostri, non i vostri.The magazines are ours, they are not yours!
Quelle scarpe non sono le loro, sono le tue!Those shoes are not theirs, they’re yours!

6. Relative pronouns in Italian

We use relative pronouns for connecting sentences that have an element in common. These are short words that, have no meaning, but that we use to link two clauses.

In Italian we have two invariable relative pronouns: che, and cui.

Che is used in place of a subject or a direct object (thing or person). In English, it can often be translated as “that” or “who”.

ItalianEnglish
La bambina che hai visto con Luca è mia sorella. The girl that you saw with Luca is my sister.

Here, che takes the place of a direct object: la bambina.

Cui, on the other hand, can have many different translations, as it indicates an indirect object. The pronoun itself always stays the same, but it can take various prepositions:

ItalianEnglish
Questo è il bar di cui ti ho parlato. This is the bar that I talked to you about.
La ditta per cui lavoro è chiusa per ferie.The company I work for is closed for holidays.

We can also use cui preceded by an article to connect two related clauses to express a form of possession. In this case, it means “whose”.

ItalianEnglish
Giuliana, la cui figlia lavora con me, ha la mia età. Giuliana, whose daughter works with me, is my age.
Quel gatto, i cui padroni sono Arnaldo e Mara, da cucciolo era bellissimo. That cat, whose owners are Arnaldo and Mara, was very cute as a puppy.

7. Indefinite pronouns in Italian

​We use indefinite pronouns to talk about an indefinite person or thing. Some of the most commonly used are: qualcuno (some, someone), qualcosa (something), nessuno (no one) and niente (nothing).

Qualcuno, qualcosa, nessuno, niente: Rules

  • Qualcuno can indicate an undefined quantity of things or people. It has a feminine form, qualcuna, and it is always singular.
  • Qualcuno can also indicate one unspecified person. In this case, it is always masculine.
    C’è qualcuno fuori. (There is someone outside.)
  • Qualcosa or qualche cosa are used to talk about one or more things. It only has a singular form and takes masculine adjectives. C’è qualcosa di strano. (There is something strange.)
  • Nessuno means no one/ not one. It has a feminine form, nessuna, and it is always singular. Non c’era nessuno al cinema. (There was no one at the cinema.)
  • Niente and nulla are synonyms, and they mean “nothing”. They are invariable and are masculine. Oggi non c’era niente di buono da mangiare. (Today there was nothing good to eat.)

Indefinite pronouns: More examples

There are many more indefinite pronouns in Italian, here are some examples:

  • Alcuni / alcune (Some)
  • Chiunque (Anyone)
  • Ognuno / ognuna (Every one / Each one)

8. Demonstrative pronouns in Italian

Demonstrative pronouns are used instead of a noun to point out a specific person or thing. The most common Italian demonstrative pronouns are: questo and quello. Remember, these have to take the gender and number of the object or person they replace!

EnglishMasculine singularFeminine singularMasculine pluralFeminine plural
Thisquestoquestaquestiqueste
Thatquelloquellaquelliquelle

9. Combined pronouns

Combined pronouns are the combination of indirect pronouns + direct pronouns or the particle “ne”.

Note that indirect pronouns “mi, ti, ci, vi”, when they join another pronoun, change the “i” to an “e”.

LoLaLiLeNe
MiMe loMe laMe liMe leMe ne
TiTe loTe laTe liTe leTe ne
GliGlieloGlielaGlieliGlieleGliene
LeGlieloGlielaGlieliGlieleGliene
CiCe loCe laCe liCe leCe ne
ViVe loVe laVe liVe leVe ne
GliGlieloGlielaGlieliGlieleGliene

Examples of combined pronouns:

  • Hai dimenticato la borsa? Te la porto io.
    Have you forgotten your bag? I’ll bring it to you.
  • Gliel’ho detto di chiamarti, ma non mi ascolta.
    I told him to call you, but he doesn’t listen to me.
  • E le fragole? Ce le portano loro dopo.
    And the strawberries? They are bringing them to us later.

Students practice Italian pronouns.

Perfect pronoun-ciation

Now you know what pronouns are, congratulations! Remember – practice make perfect, so keep at it consistently and you’ll conquer them with ease. We hope this article was useful and that it can function for you as your guide in learning how to use all types of pronouns correctly in Italian.

If you love learning about the beautiful Italian language, keep checking back to our fun Italian language blog, full of completely free blog article lessons in vocabulary.

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